Bournemouth town of literature

Bournemouth is renown for its beautiful historical buildings such as the Pier and the Old Opera House. But what few people seem to know is that it has a rich cultural heritage, having been the home and inspiration to many authors over the centuries.
According to John Walker, a Bournemouth guide, the most famous was Stevenson, who came here “because of his health, to a town which reminded him of his favourite Mediterranean cost”. During the three years he lived here, from 1884 to 1887, he wrote his most famous novel, “The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, which would later inspire many filmmakers. Other residents included Tolkien, who spend his holidays at the Miramar hotel because his wife had fallen in love with the seaside resort. “He used to sit at the hotel terrasse to work on his novels, including the Silmarillion, published after his death”, Mr Walker says.
Victorian Bournemouth was a peaceful town, similar to the French Côte d’Azur, and this was the reason it inspired authors so much. Tomas Hardy, resident of the area in the 19th century, refers to Bournemouth in “Tess of the D’Uberville” as a “Mediterranean lounging place of the English Channel”, and in Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”, the main character finds himself surrounded by sorceresses in one of the town’s hotels!
But Bournemouth is however mostly known to the literary world as Mary Shelley’s final resting place. Frankenstein fans are drawn every year to St Peter’s church to see the novelist’s tomb. “She never lived here” says John Walker, “but her son did, and that’s why her wish in her deathbed was to be buried here, alongside her philosopher parents, and her husband’s heart”.
Bournemouth is not known as a “great town of literature”, but people will maybe now rush to libraries to learn a bit more about their past…

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